Leo Joseph Nomellini. . .Two-time Minnesota All-America. . . 174 regular-season and 266 pro games in all. . . All-NFL six times, two years on offense, four years on defense. . .Named NFL's all-time defensive tackle. . . Played in 10 Pro Bowl games. . .Born June 19, 1924, in Lucca, Italy. . .Died October 17, 2000, at age of 76...
Leo Nomellini was born June 19, 1924 in Lucca, Italy. When he was two years old, his family moved to the United States where they eventually settled in the Chicago area. Because he had to work to help support his family, Nomellini had to pass up high school football. In 1943, Nomellini joined the Marine Corps and served in the South Pacific as an aviation mechanic and specialist. In 1946 Nomellini was reassigned to Cherry Point, NC, where he would play in is first football game.
After his discharge in 1946, Nomellini was given a football scholarship from the University of Minnesota. As a freshman, Nomellini earned a starting spot on the offensive line. During his sophomore season, he was moved to offensive tackle where he became a two time All-American in 1948 and 1949. In addition to his stellar football career, Nomellini won the Big 10 heavyweight wrestling championship and was also on the Minnesota track team as a shot putter and anchorman on the 440-yard relay team
In 1950, Nomellini became the San Francisco 49ers first draft choice. At 6-3 and 260, "The Lion" had everything needed to be an all-time pro: great-size, speed, agility, aggressiveness, dedication to the game, superb conditioning and the willingness to go the full 60 minutes of any game. Nomellini played offensive tackle during his first three professional seasons and was an All-Pro in 1951 and 1952. After the 1952 season, Nomellini displayed his versatility when he was moved to defensive tackle, where he was named to the All-Pro team four more times.
Before his retirement in 1963, Nomellini played in 174 straight regular-season games, including 10 Pro Bowl games, for a total of 266 pro contest appearances. During several off-seasons, Nomellini also starred as a professional wrestler.
In 1969, Nomellini was enshrined to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Nomellini later joined the Northwestern Tile Company in Oakland, CA, where he was named vice president. On October 17, 2000, Leo Nomellini passed away at the age of 76.